Page 1 of 2 Next >> Piero Dusio was a wealthy Italian industrialist, who had also proven remarkably quick behind the wheel of a racing car. Among his most notable results was a third place finish in the 1938 Mille Miglia, driving an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B. Long before the end of the War, he devised a plan to add (racing) car manufacturing to his already long list of activities. Operating under the acronym Cisitalia (Compagnia Industriale Sportiva Italia), he asked leading Fiat engineer Dante Giacosa in 1944 to design a brand new, single seater racing car in the evening hours.
The father of the Fiat Topolino and still employed by the Turin-based manufacturer, Giacosa not surprisingly based the new Cisitalia on Fiat components. The tubular chassis, however, was bespoke and was among the very first to use spaceframe principles. The car's suspension followed Fiat lines with lower wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the front and a live rear axle. The finned hydraulic drum brakes and gearbox were also retrieved from the Fiat-parts bin.
The four cylinder engine used was also of Fiat origins but it was so extensively modified that it produced almost twice as much horsepower as the standard version. Displacing just under 1,100 cc, it was fitted with a dry-sump lubrication system, so it could be mounted lower in the chassis. The valvetrain was beefed up with dual valve springs and all the belts were replaced by gears for reliability reasons. An Abarth derived twin-carburettor intake and exhaust system was also fitted. The end result was 60 bhp at 5,800 rpm.
Fitted with a sleek single-seater bodywork by another Fiat engineer, Giovanni Savonuzzi, the new Cisitalia burst onto the scene in Turin, in August of 1946. Known internally as the type 201, it was referred to as the D46 for Dusio 1946. No fewer than seven examples were entered for what was the first Italian post-War motor race. Dusio had enlisted the services of some of the greatest drivers of the period, including Tazio Nuvolari, Raymond Sommer and Louis Chiron, but it was the patron himself who won the race. Page 1 of 2 Next >>